In a period from 2010 to 2018, cosmetic company Lush was underpaying their workers by a total of$4.4m. After an internal investigation, the company’s Australian arm has admitted that it underpaid its 3,130 employees, breaching three awards along the way.
When the investigation was over, the company turned itself over to a regulator. They have agreed to pay back their debts and also made a $60,000 contrition payment. It has turned out that everyone who worked in the chain’s stores, management, and manufacturing were underpaid.
In August, Guardian Australia conducted an investigation and found out that the factory workers were obligated to do some heavy work, suffering injuries during their shifts.
“The contraventions were caused by Lush’s inadequate workplace relations systems and processes, including a lack of training for staff and managers, a manual payroll system, and the absence of an HR department in a rapidly growing business,” the ombudsman, Sandra Parker, said.
“Lush failed to provide its employees with a range of entitlements they were owed … including minimum wage rates, rates for weekend and shift work, overtime rates, and allowances. Record-keeping laws were also breached.”
Godfrey Moase, an executive director with the United Workers Union said that, if Lush was operating by the rules, all of this would not happen:
“It reflects a culture where labor rights are not prioritized,” he said. “It is not complex to comply with these awards, it is not complex to comply with Australian minimum standards.”
A spokeswoman for Lush Australia said that the company is doing its best to remedy the damage and ensure that something like this won’t happen ever again:
“We hold our values dear and would never knowingly underpay, cheat, or avoid our responsibilities and we regret that these mistakes and oversights happened. We know this has been a difficult experience for all those concerned and we would therefore like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our staff for their patience and understanding whilst the long process of wage recalculation took place.”
According to the ombudsman, the company has been cooperative with the investigation and has invested a significant effort to repay the workers.